Otsego County Emergency Responders Talk Safety During Ice Rescues

Several ice fishermen made their way onto local lakes over the weekend.

Three fell through the ice in separate incidents.

Only one survived.

One of the victims, Terry Weber, drowned in a rural lake in Montmorency County.

He was the creator of the popular fishing trolling spoon, Michigan Stinger. 

Otsego County emergency responders recovered a Charlton Twp. man’s body from Big Bear Lake Saturday.

9 & 10’s Blayke Roznowski and photojournalist Noah Jurik spoke to first responders about how they make safe ice rescues.

"The ice is not safe," Otsego County EMS Chief and emergency manager Jon Deming said. "We had a great November, warm-like weather, and all of a sudden it turned winter."

That ice is unsafe for everyone, including the first responders who come out to rescue people who have fallen through.

Otsego County EMS has special training to make sure they’re ready to make a safe rescue.

"We make sure it’s secure. We lay down and roll into the water to secure the victim and then we use ropes on safe ice or safe ground to recover the rescuer and the victim," Deming said.

Otsego County EMS has special suits that are not only incredible warm for the cold conditions, but they can also float and they have special safety features like flashlights and ice augers in case they fall through the ice. 

"You can go in the water and stay in for a period of time," Deming said. "We don’t like them in longer than 15 minutes, but we worry about our rescue too. We don’t want any hypothermia setting in."

The Vanderbilt fire chief says it can also be unsafe when victims in the water panic while they try to rescue them.

"A person is going to freak out. That’s common," Vanderbilt Fire Department Chief Dave Cadaret said. "That’s human nature, but just try to take a breath try and calm down."

Above all, emergency responders say it’s important they work together to try to save lives and also stay safe.

"We all work together as a team," Cadaret said. "Doesn’t matter what department we’re on. Even if we were out of our county, we all work together to do the same job."